Do Your Policy and Procedure Manuals Need a Tune-Up?

By: Dennis Gardiner, Partner email

Your policy manual should answer the question of why your organization exists and what its philosophy, mission and goals are.  Policies are the steps to put your goals into action. The fortunes of any company have, historically, been closely tied to how well they managed risk.  Written policies, approved by the board of directors and adhered to in practice, are of critical importance to ensure that the company operates within prescribed risk tolerances.  In today’s fiercely competitive and challenging environment, an up-to-date policy manual, appropriate to a company’s functions and business plan, may be more important than ever.  There are numerous benefits to having a relevant and effective policy manual, and severe consequences to having one that is stale and out of date. Written policies vary considerably in content, length, and specificity as well as style and quality.  No two companies share the same tolerance for risk, offer the same product mix, or face the same economic conditions.  An effective policy should reflect the size and complexity of the company and its operations, and should be tailored to its particular needs and characteristics.  Revisions should occur as circumstances change, and the policy should be flexible enough to accommodate a new activity without a major overhaul.

A five-step process can be used to develop policies and procedures.

1. Identify Issues 2. Draft Policy 3. Approve Policy 4. Implement 5. Review and Evaluate

Next, do you have a procedures manual? A procedures manual answers the question of how your organization will carry out the policies you create.  Procedures are the details that take policies to action. Procedures manuals are becoming increasingly more important.  A well-documented procedures manual will help your staff avoid conflict and potential for misunderstanding as you mitigate the challenges posed by ever-changing business and economic climates. Developing a policies and procedures manual  is a huge task.  Spread the work around and use available resources.  The benefits you gain will reflect the effort you put into creating your manual.  It’s another tool to assist you in providing focused and consistent results, and if you hit a speed bump along the way, we’re here to help.